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France Combats Anorexia By Banning Excessively Thin Runway Models

PARIS – French lawmakers have voted in favor of a law that would ban excessively thin runway models and potentially fine the employers that hire them in an effort to eliminate anorexia in the modeling industry.

The country’s National Assembly supported an amendment that would forbid anybody under a certain body mass index, or BMI from working as a runway model on Friday. Those who continue to hire underweight models could be fined as much as 75,000 ($82,460) and face up to six months in prison, the Wall Street Journal reported.

thin runway models

(Photo: Flickr)

The purpose behind the bill is to combat anorexia, Olivier Véran, a doctor and the Socialist deputy from southeastern France who brought the idea forward said.

“The law is to protect models, who are getting so thin that they’re in danger,” Mr. Véran told The Wall Street Journal late Friday. “It’s also to protect adolescents. This image of so-called ideal beauty augments the risk of eating disorders.”

Doctors say that a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.5, although Dr. Véran didn’t suggest an appropriate BMI level for models, saying France’s workplace health authority will determine that number. BMI takes into account the weight and height of an individual.

France’s move comes on the heels of similar measures put in place in Italy and Spain and may ultimately force top haute couture brands to change the preferred profile of thin runway models as a showcase for their latest fashions.

Paris is home to influential fashion weeks, with people flocking worldwide to catch a glimpse of these prestigious shows. It’s also a hub for models hoping to secure work on runways and fashion magazines.

The amendment still requires approval by France’s Senate before becoming enacted into law, however Dr. Véran foresees it passing and being enforced by the year’s end.

The United States has yet to legislate rules for American models. The trade group Council of Fashion Designers of America has set a minimum age for models who appear during New York Fashion Week, though it does not yet have body mass index regulations.

France Combats Anorexia By Banning Excessively Thin Runway Models


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